The biggest announcement in 2020 on autonomous driving from the German shores is that the 2021 Mercedes S-Class should be able to park itself. Bosch and Daimler worked together on a system in which a parking garage like the one at Stuttgart Airport was equipped with sensors and computing power to drive a Mercedes S-Class from a so-called staging area – where the driver gets out – to an available parking space by itself. When the driver wants to pick up the car again, he calls it through the app to the staging area and waits there.
Here is the video:
What can you say to this? A cool functionality – if this were the year 2000. In 2020 it looks pretty disappointing and clearly shows the technology gap of a German technology pioneer.
Robocar expert Brad Templeton, who has worked with Waymo, among others, on the development of autonomous cars, was very frank in his words. The function offers hardly any advantage. the two to three minutes you gain are not worth mentioning. Instead, it would have been better for the car to drop off the passengers at the entrance to the airport building and then find a parking space in a garage itself, perhaps even far away from the airport in a more convenient location.
Also, this self-parking functionality, which only works in specially equipped parking garages, comes when Waymo begins its first completely driverless commercial robotaxi service in Phoenix, and Tesla has delivered the first pre-release version of Full Self Driving to selected customer cars. Both drive autonomously in cities without a public sensor infrastructure and can also park themselves. No matter where, no matter what other road users, and not just in a specially equipped parking garage.
What Mercedes and Bosch are showing here is too little, too late, and completely out of touch with passenger needs. I am already aware that there will be more remarks, only negative reports about German manufacturers, but let’s be honest: can anyone report anything about electric cars and autonomous driving that is not years behind the competition from the USA and increasingly also China?
This article was also published in German.